Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watchdog to Break 360-Year Monopoly of the Royal Mail

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watchdog to Break 360-Year Monopoly of the Royal Mail

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BENHAM

UNDER-PERFORMING Royal Mail today paid the price for failing to deliver on time as the industry regulator moved to tear up its 360-yearold monopoly.

Postcomm is proposing a radical shake-up of deliveries that would allow rivals to deliver bulk mail from April and compete to deliver all mail from April 2006.

Postcomm chairman Graham Corbett said the proposals, even more far-reaching than expected, reflected the fact that the current monopoly is "clearly not providing customers with the service they want".

Residential customers in London, where up to one in four first-class letters are late in some areas, would have to wait at least four years to see mail delivered by local operators such as milkmen or supermarkets.

The scale and speed of the proposals produced a furious response from both the company and unions.

Royal Mail's parent company Consignia is in severe financial difficulties and making up to 30,000 job cuts as part of a [pound]1.2 billion cost-cutting package.

They warn they would cripple Consignia financially and spell the end of the universal service - the principle under which mail can be delivered anywhere in the country for the same price.

Consignia chairman Allan Leighton said: "Competitors can now cherry-pick the profitable

parts of our business, which substantially pay for the 'one price anywhere in the country' promise of universal service.

"For Consignia the regulator's approach represents death by a thousand cuts."

Billy Hayes, the general secretary of the Communication Workers' Union, said the regulator was "blatantly ignoring" the Government's instructions to protect the universal service.

The company is losing [pound]1million a day and, as revealed by the Evening Standard, has to spend one pence more to deliver each letter than it is paid. …

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